CEHD News Community Engagement

CEHD News Community Engagement

FSOS profs offer post-election commentary

FSOS professors Abi Gewirtz and Bill Doherty offered post-election thoughts in local and national media outlets, respectively.

Local NBC affiliate, KARE 11 featured Abi Gewirtz and her thoughts on talking to kids regarding the current mood in the country.

The Wall Street Journal featured Bill Doherty and his thoughts on moving forward in familial relationships when parties disagree on the outcome of the election. Independent.co.uk also featured Doherty’s thoughts.

See Gewirtz on KARE 11 here. Learn more about her and her research interests here.

Read Doherty’s comments in WSJ here. Read his comments in Independent hereLearn more about him and his research interests here.

Solheim, Wieling, and Ballard publish new textbook

immigrantrefugeetextbookDepartment of Family Social Science faculty members Cathy Solheim and Liz Wieling, along with FSOS Ph.D. student Jaime Ballard, recently published a breakthrough textbook titled, Immigrant and Refugee Families: Global Perspectives on Displacement and Resettlement Experiences.

While they were preparing to teach “Global Perspectives on Immigrant and Refugee Families,” Solheim and Wieling noticed that while there was a wealth of information regarding the immigrant experiences of individuals, very few textbooks focused on immigration experiences as it pertained to the family as a whole.

With the help of Ballard, Solheim and Wieling created a text that discusses current theoretical frameworks and synthesizes current research specific to immigrant and refugee families.

Read the textbook, which is available for free through University of Minnesota Libraries.

Learn more about Solheim, Wieling, and Ballard on their respective profile pages.



Literacy Ph.D. Student Wins Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle award

Anne Crampton, Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum & Instruction wins WPLC award.

Anne Crampton, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Literacy Education received the Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle (WPLC) award for graduate students. The award is for women graduate students to recognize their achievements and successes in their field of interest. The criteria for the award includes academic achievements, community involvement, leadership, and passion for the academic and professional career of choice. 

Crampton’s research focus is in secondary critical literacy where she is currently looking at the student experience in both a large, urban high school and a small, urban charter school. “I think it is significant that we have such different experiences in schools, within and certainly across districts. I’m not comparing them, just trying to notice some of the plurality of schooling. Also, there can be negative stereotypes assigned to large, urban schools because people often don’t see the strengths of the students,” Crampton says.

After 15 years as a classroom teacher, Crampton pursued her Ph.D. in Literacy Education to have a better understanding of what shapes the education system and the root of inequity in the classroom. “Certain things kept me awake at night about what I didn’t think was fair or right. I wanted to understand it and be a part of the conversation in order to change it,” she noted.

Crampton’s Ph.D. studies have helped her make more sense of some of the arguments in public education and the urgency around them. She feels there are very positive and effective education techniques that offer the chance for a transformative learning experience. “I’d like other people to know that effective education does happen and it’s possible. People want to hear about successful education techniques in three words, but it’s complicated. Implementing new techniques takes support, an excellent teacher, flexibility, and the support of the school district.“

Crampton is particularly focused on the value of “aesthetic experiences” in the classroom, referring to big projects that students have a creative stake in that allow an aspect of performance, be it a podcast or a play. Citing the need for opportunities to engage emotionally and critically with ideas: “I think you can do all those things in many different disciplines,” Crampton believes these types of experiences in the classroom support the growth of the students as humans and honors their abilities.

Crampton plans to use her award to disseminate ideas and learn from her peers through conference travel and potentially support the purchase of additional Garage Band apps for classrooms in her research.

Serido helps students and families make better decisions about financing higher education

Professor Joyce SeridoDepartment of Family Social Science associate Professor Joyce Serido teamed up with Extension educators across the state to create a pilot program that helps students and families make better choices about financing higher education.

The program began in January, and Serido will meet with Extension educators in February to fine tune the program to make it accessible to various groups statewide.

Read more about Serido’s work in Source Magazine.

Learn more about Serido’s research on her profile page.

Learn more about personal finance and financial education resources.

The spirit of reasonable adventurers, abroad and at home.

Art of Graffiti? "Good Life" students in Copenhagen, Denmark exploring urban space issues via group bike tour.
Art or Graffiti? “Good Life” students in Copenhagen, Denmark exploring urban space issues via group bike tour.

According to student development research conducted by psychologist Roy Heath, “reasonable adventurers” are college students “who know how to be alive.”

During a 3-week intensive global seminar titled Examining the ‘Good Life’ In Denmark and Sweden, Mike Stebleton (PsTL) intentionally challenged 24 UMN students to become reasonable adventurers. “One of my goals was to create engaging and active experiential learning situations where students felt somewhat uncomfortable yet still supported in the process,” says Stebleton.

Building resiliency and tolerance of ambiguity

To introduce the concept, Stebleton arranged a visit to the micro-nation of Ladonia and the Kullen National Park in southern Sweden. Here, the group navigated the steep, rocky climb to the Nimis and Arx sculptures created by controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks. In this 1-square kilometer nation, many students climbed the towers and scaled impressive shoreline cliffs, while intellectually the class discussed issues of collective identity, nation building, and immigration issues in Scandinavia. The challenge of the hike and immersion into an unfamiliar environment helped foster resiliency and tolerance of ambiguity, two of Stebleton’s developmental outcomes for the seminar.

Ladonia set the stage for Stebleton to advance students’ ability to “be alive” during their Nordic experience with a Reasonable Adventurer Group Project. Working in small groups, students were required to explore the good life in community through an activity that pushed boundaries of comfort, provided cultural immersion and integrated academic concepts from the seminar’s curriculum. The following paragraphs highlight a few student reflections from the assignment, edited for clarity and length.

Examining the health care system following a visit to Bispebjerb Hospital

In Denmark where everyone feels safe and healthy because they know that they have a hospital to go to or a pharmacy to receive treatments is a calming thought so people do not mind paying taxes. 

Learning about the Danish healthcare system makes me wonder if paying higher taxes is really a bad thing if it makes sure that I, along with my fellow citizens, are receiving the help that we need. If everyone has one less thing on their plate to worry about that means that they can continue to take care of their children or put more effort into working. Additionally, making sure that everyone is taken care of can contribute to that “good” life that the Danes seem to have mastered; everyone can feel safe, content, and happy to know that everyone is in safe keeping.

Reflecting on consumption at Ølfestival 2015, a Beer Brewers Festival

Nowhere at this festival was there evidence of excessive drinking; we attended the event for several hours and were there long enough for raucous attendants to become evident, but none surfaced.

It appears that part of why there is little to no alcohol stigma in Denmark is because the Danes have the capacity to responsibly manage consumption. This stands in contrast to America, where alcohol abuse is a clear and obvious issue and many individuals begin drinking before the legal drinking age with no education regarding drinking culture. I believe that the Danish tradition of drinking with the family from an early age helps educate and protect Danish youths from the dangers of alcohol, which makes drinking a safer and more enjoyable hobby. This could clearly affect Danish happiness; responsible drinking means less of the many negative externalities associated with excessive drinking.

Observing the roles of film and television in Denmark and Sweden

The two primary lessons I took away from my visits to the Danish Film Institute were the importance of film in culture and the difficulty of being in a place where you cannot speak the language. I had never before thought of film or TV as an extremely important aspect of culture. However, as the Danish Film Institute underscores, these visual arts are central to modern culture and are experienced every day. 

During our visit to Sveriges Television we saw the great importance placed on national TV production, even given its great expense. Compared to the American TV industry, the Swedish TV industry has both advantages and disadvantages. The unbiased presentation of news is very impressive; however, this can come at the cost of limited freedom of speech. Also, American TV is so much bigger because it is founded in the free market, whereas Swedish TV relies on taxation to support itself. Of course, the corporate ownership of American TV can result in a bias. 

Engaged learning and student development in all time zones

For many students, this trip was their first experience outside of North America, a reasonable adventure in itself. However, Stebleton believes passports are not required to embrace the spirit of a reasonable adventurer; the magic can happen right on campus.  Reasonable adventurers are students who take calculated risks and approach their learning with a sense of energy, risk and full investment.

“Higher education professionals, especially student affairs practitioners and faculty, can foster the traits inherent in reasonable adventurers in a wide range of teaching and learning contexts,” says Stebleton.

“We are in a unique position to co-create learning environments where students have the opportunity to engage in active learning and become reasonable adventurers in this reciprocal and collaborative process.”

Students after a workout at Sports Project gym, an organization that does outreach with troubled youth.
Students after a workout at Sports Project gym, an organization that does outreach with troubled youth.

Learning abroad in Thailand: Studying and experiencing big ideas in community

Learning abroad in Thailand May 2015

Reflecting on her twenty years of teaching and her long-term goals for pedagogy and practice, Linda Buturian (PsTL) explains why the learning abroad program she developed in partnership with Cathy Solheim (FSoS) epitomizes her ongoing quest.

“Thailand comes the closest to my ideal of a teaching and learning environment: Engaging in socially relevant topics in an applied experiential learning in a small community that’s interactive with communities, and in natural places,” says Buturian.

Buturian has been trying to recreate what she experienced as an undergraduate while living and studying in community with a handful of peers and professors in the mountains of Oregon. “We lived in cabins and studied the big ideas together,” she recalls. “We read Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society then traveled to San Francisco and experienced it. We read Annie Dillard and Wendell Berry, discussed the importance of wilderness, then backpacked into the Three Sisters in the Oregon Cascades.

Buturian Thailand15-2During three weeks in May of 2015, Buturian and Solheim brought 20 students to Thailand to study the impact of globalization on environmental sustainability, economic and family well-being and community development as it relates to changes along the Mekong River. The program braids Buturian’s research on and interest in international rivers and her experience using digital stories for teaching and learning, with Solheim’s extensive knowledge of Thai culture and family social sciences scholarship. “To design a course with Cathy and experience this transformative learning with the students was profound to me.”

While in Thailand, the curriculum involved fieldwork, individual student blog posts and a group blog project. Buturian and Solheim wanted topics for the group project to emerge from the trip’s main activities:

Visiting with the students at the Suksasongkroh Chiang Dao School, a boarding school that provides children from some of the poorest hill villages a chance to escape human trafficking and poverty;

Interacting with students and community leaders at the Mekong River School, which is dedicated to helping young people maintain and learn about their cultural traditions, including protecting and cherishing the natural environment and resources of the Mekong River;

ButurianThailand15-3And, a homestay at Mae Kampong, a strong village community that derives income from tea, coffee and its eco-homestay program.

An unexpected and emotional connection occurred during a discussion with one of the tour guides, Eve. She shared her personal stories about the effects of human trafficking on her family and friends. Eve grew up in northern Thailand in the Golden Triangle in a poor area and told the students about aunts, cousins and friends who were sold into sex trafficking operations in Bangkok. Many have died of HIV. Eve’s mother encouraged her to “be the best” at her school and Eve received a scholarship as the top girl in her class that allowed her to elude this fate. The second ranked girl was trafficked and later died.

To unpack the broad subject of globalization and identify group blog topics, the class held a three-hour meeting. “We had some ideas of what the topics would be, but we wanted the students to choose and articulate them and group themselves based on their interests,” says Buturian. As a class, they settled on: globalization and human trafficking; globalization and its impact on the environment, primarily on the Mekong River and the villagers who live along the river; and, globalization and education. The topic of Buddhism also emerged based on an engaging talk presented by a Hmong Buddhist monk in Chang Mai. Coalescing around interest, students combined research, interviews, reflections and images to develop their group blogs. This work set the stage for the final individual project to be completed once the students returned home: a digital story reflecting on what they learned through their experiences.

Buturian, who has been using digital stories since 2008, defines them as 5-10 minute movies students create and share online, using images, audio and text. She realized the level of student engagement with the genre early on: recognizing it harnesses students’ visual knowledge while also providing a shareable end product. “I started to gather the research as to why digital stories were working,” says Buturian. Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, which classifies creating as higher-order thinking, helped to shed light on why creating the digital story is both challenging and potentially transformative. “This is a creating act. This is why it is both hard and rewarding.”

The students’ digital stories incorporate personal reflections and photographs from their time in Thailand. Buturian and Solheim were mindful to assign the digital story once students had returned to campus to ensure the students weren’t sidetracked by technology and miss chances to learn and connect while in Thailand.

“Students will be navigating the complex challenges and opportunities that come along with globalization,” says Buturian. “As teachers, it is incumbent upon us to provide hopeful, collaborative models and experiences to help students not only envision more sustainable and just societies, but to realize the power and joy of participating in creating those communities.”

Thailand 2015 student blogs and digital stories can be found here.


Tania D. Mitchell receives AAUW American Fellowship

MitchellT-2012Tania D. Mitchell, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, was selected to receive an AAUW American Fellowship for the 2015-16 fellowship and grant year. AAUW provides one of the world’s largest sources of funding for graduate women and the awards are highly competitive. Candidates are evaluated on the basis of scholarly excellence; quality and originality of project design; and active commitment to helping women and girls through service in their communities, professions, or fields of research.

The oldest and largest of AAUW’s fellowships and grant programs, the American Fellowships program began in 1888, a time when women were discouraged from pursuing an education. Now one of the largest sources of funding for graduate education for women, AAUW has provided more than $90 million to upwards of 11,000 fellows and grantees since awarding its first fellowship to Ida Street, a pioneer in the field of early American Indian history. Previous recipients include Susan Sontag and Judith Resnick.

PsTL’s Gary Peter invited to American Academy in Rome

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGary Peter, senior teaching specialist in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching & Learning, has been invited to be a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome (AAR) for a three-week residency this summer. The AAR provides opportunities for artists and scholars from around the world to work on creative and academic projects, engage with other artists and scholars, and participate in the vibrant cultural life of Rome.

Hatch honored by State Chapter of American Fisheries Society

HatchJay-2013Jay Hatch, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, received a Special Recognition Award from the State Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. During the 48th Annual Meeting on March 3, 2015, Hatch was honored for his 10 years of service on the Scholarship Committee of State AFS .

Jehangir leads development workshops at Hamline University

JehangirR-2007On March 17, Rashné Jehangir, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, gave a keynote address at Hamline University titled: “First Generation, Next Generation: Understanding the Complexity of the First Generation College Student Experience.” This is the first in a series of three staff and faculty development workshops that Jehangir will lead at Hamline University this year.

Mitchell delivers keynote on long-term impacts of community engagement

Tania D. MitchellTania D. Mitchell, assistant professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, delivered the closing keynote address at the Gulf-South Summit March 12, 2015, in Little Rock, Arkansas. The conference, hosted this year by the University of Arkansas and the Clinton School for Public Service, gathers faculty and administrators to share research and best practices on community engagement and service learning. Mitchell’s keynote, titled: “Living Lives of Commitment: The Enduring Influence of Community Engagement Experiences,” used empirical research to demonstrate the long-term impacts of community engagement opportunities on the lives of college alumni.

Jill Trites: A life of international teaching, learning and service.

PsTL's Jill Trites plans to collaborate with Qingdao University's Joy Song to develop a COIL course.
PsTL’s Jill Trites plans to collaborate with Qingdao University’s Joy Song to develop a COIL course.

When student protests erupted in Tiananmen Square, Jill Trites was only 146 kilometers away in Tianjin. While the People’s Republic of China may seem an unlikely location to find a young woman from Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, Trites’ life is richly woven with unique international teaching, learning and service work experiences.

As a town kid raised in a farming and resort community, Trites, now a senior teaching specialist in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, embraced the rhythm of new faces and population swell that arrived each summer. “I met people who encouraged me to try new things,” recalls Trites. The fourth of five children, Trites followed in her siblings’ footsteps, complying with her parents’ desire that she attend a local, state college. At Minnesota State University, Moorhead, Trites made friends who broadened her already open mind. “One friend from Hong Kong challenged me to learn Chinese, so I did,” she says. Studying the Chinese language, led to a study abroad scholarship. After one semester in the People’s Republic of China, Trites elected to stay for a second. It was the spring of 1989, and the student protests for democracy had just begun. “The open broadcasting from Tiananmen Square was a great turning point,” says Trites.

The study abroad semesters were a springboard for Trites. In addition to earning a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, Chinese and communications from Moorhead, and a Master of Arts in teaching English as a second language from the University of Minnesota, Trites holds a Certificate in Chinese language and linguistics from Nankai University, Tianjin in the People’s Republic of China. Her international work includes teaching English at Nankai University and Tianjin University in the People’s Republic of China and cultural orientation courses for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Nairobi, Kenya. During the summers of 2008-2012, she traveled to Mozambique, in southeast Africa, to volunteer as an English teacher to elementary, middle school, and high school students, and facilitate teacher-training sessions for early childhood educators and primary school teachers.

The University of Minnesota acknowledged Trites’ dedication to international education by selecting her for the 2014-2015 Internationalizing Teaching and Learning (ITL) Cohort and ITL Fellows programs. “I’ve been working with international students one way or another since 1990,” says Trites. But after meeting with her multidisciplinary cohort in January 2015, Trites displayed the humility of a person committed to lifelong learning. “I realize how far I have to go in developing activities that help build awareness for problem-solving and decision-making as part of a global community.”

Trites was also selected to participate in the University’s Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Cohort program. For someone who values being on the cutting edge of international education, Trites sees COIL as an exciting, new challenge: one that may give her students a chance to connect with Chinese peers in a way that was impossible in 1989. To develop her COIL course, Trites plans to partner with Joy Song, a professor of English Education from Qingdao University, who was a visiting scholar at the University last year. The ambitious undertaking involves more than developing curriculum, together Trites and Song must navigate disparate technologies, cultural norms, student expectations as well as a twelve-hour time difference. “We’ll have to be open, flexible and adapt as we go,” says Trites. Despite the extensive coordination, Trites believes a COIL course can yield tremendous benefits. “Only fifty percent of students have access to a learning abroad program. For some students, this is the only international learning opportunity they may ever have,” says Trites. “It might be rough at times, but we have to try.”

To help gather information and connections that support her COIL course development, Trites will attend the SUNY COIL Center’s 7th annual conference March 19 – 20, 2015. As the leading international event in the field, the COIL conference brings together 250+ faculty, international programs staff, instructional technology staff, and university and college administrators from SUNY, across the U.S. and around the world to celebrate innovative models and best practices.

African American Read-In benefits from University partnerships, CEHD alum support.

African Am Read In 2015Black Men and Women Reading partnered with Patti Neiman, Director of Educational Efficacy and Leadership at the UYMCA, to hold an African American Read-In. Neiman is the former Associate Director of CEHD career services and a CEHD alum. Participants from Black Men and Women Reading included Ezra Hyland, teaching specialist in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, John Carter, who worked in the General College Help Center after returning from Vietnam, Anise McDowell, a graduate of the PSTL MA Program, and McDowell’s sister Denis Mazone.  Singing were Kiana Marie and Proper-T.


Jehangir presents session on social justice at AACU meeting

Rashne JehangirRashné Jehangir, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning presented at the centennial meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) with her colleagues David Schoem, University of Michigan and Nancy Thomas, Tufts University. The session was titled: “Is There a Place for Social Justice in Higher Education” and focused on community engagement, academic freedom and critical pedagogies that challenge the corporatization of higher education.


Maruyama featured in article on importance of college, community collaboration for first-generation students

1MaruyamaGeoff-2013Geoffrey Maruyama, chair of the Department of Educational Psychology, describes how community and academic partnerships provide necessary support for first-generation students in an article published by Academic Impressions.

“It’s critical that first-generation students and their families see the connection between their learning and their community. Often, these students arrive at college with idealism: they are going to get an education and then solve the world’s problems. But they don’t see immediate connection between the classes they’re taking and world problems…or their community’s problems,” says Maruyama.

In the article Maruyama shares how, through a $2.8 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, the University of Minnesota is working with five other research universities to develop educational programming and curriculum to better serve under-represented students.

Read the full article on Academic Impressions’ website.

Read “$2.8 million grant supports research to bridge cultural divides for underrepresented college students.”

CEHD Reads: Henrietta Lacks’ Legacy Panel


Susan M. Wolf, Shirley Lacks, Victoria Baptiste and Dr. Ruth Faden
Susan M. Wolf, Shirley Lacks, Victoria Baptiste and Dr. Ruth Faden

How can one person make a difference? That’s the question first-year CEHD students and the college community considered while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoot, this year’s CEHD Reads Common Book.

Every year the First Year Experience Program in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning partners with CEHD Reads to enhance the FYE Common Book assignment with an on-campus event that transforms the personal experience of reading into a collaborative and rich conversation.

In light of the medical and ethical questions raised in this year’s book, Kris Cory, director of the First Year Experience, invited the University’s Center for Bioethics to co-sponsor this year’s Henrietta Lacks’ Legacy Panel.

Filling Northrop Auditorium on a frigid November morning, all first-year CEHD students, along with members of the college community and the general public gathered to hear
Dr. Ruth Faden, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, lead a thoughtful exploration of how ethical and privacy issues intersect with questions of social justice, sparked by the events chronicled in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
As a cancer patient being treated at John Hopkins, Henrietta Lacks, an impoverished, 31-year-old, African-American, had cells extracted and used in research without her consent. Her cells demonstrated the unique ability to be kept alive and grow in a laboratory, resulting in the first human immortal cell line for medical research, identified globally as the HeLa cell line.

Providing details of the Lacks’ family past and present, Victoria Baptiste, Henrietta Lacks’ great-granddaughter, and Shirley Lacks, Henrietta Lacks’ daughter-in-law, shared stories of Henrietta as a generous woman who packed lunches for her husband’s co-workers at Bethlehem Steel. They referenced her firm approach to parenting and described her impeccable style that included red painted toes and well-ironed dresses. They also spoke of the family’s inability to afford health insurance in earlier days, despite the HeLa cell’s contribution to significant medical advances including the polio vaccine.

For decades, the family was kept from knowing the medical importance of the HeLa cell line. In the 1970s, researchers requested blood samples from family members without explanation or follow-up, leaving family members questioning their health and the purpose of the request. In the 1980s family medical records were published without consent, and in 2013, the genome of a strain of HeLa cells was published without permission from the Lacks family. Numerous accounts reveal that the medical community ignored the family’s right to be informed and communicated with and demonstrated disregard for the family’s medical privacy. Despite this negligence, members of the Lacks family moved beyond the disrespect to reach a place of poise and equanimity, reflected in Baptiste’s and Lacks’ presentation and interactions in the discussion.

It is undeniable that Henrietta Lacks, through the HeLa cells, made a difference to millions of people around the world. But, would things be different if permission had been sought? During the panel discussion, moderated by Susan M. Wolf, J.D., McKnight Presidential Professor of Law, Medicine, and Public Policy, Baptiste and Lacks were questioned: “If doctors had asked Henrietta for consent, would she have said yes?”

“Yes, I believe she would have,” said Baptiste. “What better way to provide for and help others.” Lacks agreed, “She was always willing to help.”

PsTL’s commitment to College in the Schools: Putting pedagogy into practice

Eagan High School CIS students
Eagan High School CIS students

Using research-based, innovative teaching practices, CIS faculty coordinators from PsTL are making a positive and powerful impact in the lives of high school students and their teachers.

Structured for student and community success
Margaret Kelly, senior teaching specialist in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator for Sociological Perspectives: A Multicultural America (PSTL 1211), sees the benefits of the Entry Point Project (EPP) from collective viewpoint. “The more people who have a positive postsecondary experience early on, the better off we are as a state. This is a no-lose effort.” Kelly explains. Her challenging course encourages high-level thinking and uses scaffolding to help students build on knowledge. The framework is designed to alert teachers to any gaps in comprehension so they can intervene early, if required. The universality of the subject matter also reinforces learning and development for the students. “This course works especially well for EPP as it integrates the students’ assets of lived experiences with race and class in the assignments and discussions,” says Kelly.

A key aspect of Kelly’s faculty coordinator role is supporting the course’s high school teachers with professional development throughout the year and during summer workshops. She also visits each classroom. Although it adds to her regular teaching responsibilities, she highly values both. “Seeing these high school students is an important reminder of where my students were just a year before,” says Kelly. “It’s incredibly rewarding to work with an amazing group of teachers. Learning from one another and problem solving together enhances the course’s impact in ways I couldn’t do alone.”

Modeling to support engagement and equity
Since 2009, Sue Staats, associate professor in PsTL and faculty coordinator for College Algebra through Modeling (PSTL 1006), watched her math course grow from serving 30 high school students in two inner city schools to reaching 600 high school students in 29 schools across the state. This growth reinforces her academic passion. “The desire to support equity in education brought me to Minnesota,” Staats says. “College in the Schools offers the widest expression of my equity work possible. It’s a joy seeing creative, dedicated high school teachers put an accessible structure around solid mathematics education to help students in the academic middle re-envision themselves as college students.”

Staats developed the course to prompt mathematical competency that’s conceptual and creative, as well as procedural. Through the use of modeling, an approach promoted by CEHD’s STEM Education Center, the course engages students with open-ended problems that require inquiry and integration of mathematical concepts. Class projects, such as designing a bike-share program for a suburban city or exploring the growth rate of British soccer star salaries in relation to the rest of Britain’s work force, allow students to apply mathematics to questions and issues that interest them. “For some students, College Algebra can be challenging, holding them back from what they want to achieve,” reflects Staats. “But thanks to our extremely committed CIS teachers, our mathematics program is serving the academic needs of a very diverse group of students and helping them earn college credit at the same time.”

Learning through hands-on inquiry
When Leon Hsu, associate professor in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator, was developing the curriculum forPhysics by Inquiry (PSTL 1163), he asked himself, “If students take only one physics course, what do I want them to get out of it?” This reflection led him to create a lab-based class that foregoes traditional lectures for guided inquiry. “It’s too easy to sit through a traditional lecture without being mentally engaged, which can make learning physics difficult,” says Hsu. Instead, the completely hands-on and minds-on course fosters conceptual reasoning through scripted discovery, helping students understand the process of how science works by performing experiments, making explanatory models and testing those models as part of a small group. Students also keep a journal to help them think about their learning. “The course structure requires students to work with and think about the material in the learning process,” he says.

As one of College in Schools’ Entry Point Project courses, Physics by Inquiry gives high school students a view of physics that complements that of most other physics courses by focusing on the scientific process. It also helps high school teachers present physics in a more appealing manner to a broader range of students. “The course gives teachers a way to challenge students beyond the formulas, problems and tests of traditional physics courses,” says Hsu. “It provides an alternative view of physics while preparing high school students for college.”

Rigor that benefits students and teachers
Human Anatomy and Physiology (PSTL 1135) allows CIS high school teachers to bring the rigor of a college science course to their students. “The pace and depth of the material is challenging and demands that students step up and take initiative for their learning,” says Nancy Cripe of Minnehaha Academy. She sees the impact: “Students develop ‘tools for their college toolbox’ – honing study skills, prioritizing study time, working effectively with lab partners, and learning to deal with occasional failure without quitting.”

The course curriculum, developed by Murray Jensen, associate professor in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator, emphasizes critical and creative thinking in the classroom by engaging students in a wide range of learning tasks, such as Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), cooperative quizzes and group discussions. Students are expected to “fill the bucket at home” meaning the memorization typically associated with anatomy and physiology classes is done on the students’ own time. “Many of my students have not had a class this intense or difficult,” says Ann Marie Froehle of Cretin Derham Hall. “The real satisfaction comes when college students return, and say how ‘easy’ their anatomy class was due to the notes/labs we did while they were in high school.”

Ryan Lester of Hmong College Prep Academy agrees the course prepares students for life at the university level. He also sees the value it brings to his teaching practice. Lester explains, “I continue to teach the class because of the way it has pushed me to be a better teacher. Murray has done a great job challenging us as teachers. He holds us and our students to an extremely high standard, but provides a lot of support and trainings to help us.”

Expand Your Perspective: International Programs in South Africa, Thailand and Denmark & Sweden

South  Africa
South Africa

For students seeking an international learning experience, faculty of the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning offer three distinct learning abroad programs in South Africa, Thailand, and Denmark & Sweden.

Each program’s curriculum specifically integrates experiential and innovative teaching and learning practices, allowing students to expand and redefine their perspectives through international education, interdisciplinary thinking and cross-cultural engagement.

Stories of Social Change: A South African Perspective
EDHD 3100/5100 – 3 Credits
December 27, 2014 – January 17, 2015

Cape Point South Africa
Cape Point South Africa

During this winter break program, Ezra Hyland guides students as they investigate the ways literature illuminates individual struggles and the relationships of these struggles to larger, global social forces. Students can expect to build their capacity for literary analysis and gain a deeper understanding of diverse philosophies and cultures within and across societies.

Hyland, who travels frequently to South Africa and has brought several South African scholars to the University, sees South Africa as a mirror for America: one that gives students a metaphorical window into American society. His desired outcome of the program is to help students see the world with new eyes. “Once they’ve read the literature, interacted with the people, and seen the places, I don’t think they’ll ever be the same again,” says Hyland. Course description and enrollment.


Global Change, Environment, and Families in Thailand
EDHD 3100/5100 – 3 Credits
May 16 – June 6, 2015


During this May term study abroad, led by Linda Buturian (PsTL) and Dr. Catherine Solheim (FSoS), students will gain insight into social justice issues from interactions with community leaders and hill tribe villagers in northern Thailand. Students will examine the complexity of globalization, specifically its impact on environmental sustainability, economic and family well-being, and community development as it relates to changes along the Mekong River. Through brief home stays and service learning projects, students will experience community life and contribute to the social change work. “The program provides students with a deeper vision of community, and demonstrates the power of community-based approaches to effecting positive social change,” says Buturian.

After they return, students will use digital storytelling to reflect on and communicate their learning. A writer and digital storyteller herself, Buturian knows the value of the assignment: “A digital narrative is a respectful, inclusive medium that helps students shape, understand and communicate the layers of their experiences with greater ownership and engagement.” Course description and enrollment.

Examining the Good Life in Denmark and Sweden
EDHD 3100 – 3 Credits

May 20 – June 13, 2015


How do education, urban design, employment and environmentalism contribute to a happy and healthy population? Using positive psychology and happiness research as conceptual frameworks, students will critically examine quality of life issues, current events and policies of Denmark and Sweden, whose residents are reported to be some of the happiest individuals in the world. With Copenhagen as their living laboratory, students will employ a multidisciplinary approach to investigate factors that contribute to urban livability and positive well-being. A visit to Malmo, Sweden allows students to compare findings of the good life between neighboring countries.

“The curriculum encourages students to think and act like social scientists using their own disciplinary lens,” says Mike Stebleton, program leader. “Like the local residents, we will explore the city by bike and foot through car-free streets, but we’ll also analyze issues related to immigration, diversity and social justice.” At the end of the course, students will prepare a digital storytelling narrative based on their analysis of a current event in Danish society. Course description and enrollment.

First Year Inquiry: Students making a difference in the lives of others

FYI-GGAL-ChalkBoardEvery year the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) welcomes over 400 freshmen to college life. All first-year students participate in the First Year Experience (FYE) Program offered through the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning within CEHD.  The FYE integrates academic courses, career development, academic advising, and special events that support the building of strong peer networks and development of skills for successfully navigating the University.

The fall component of the program is the First Year Inquiry (FYI) course: a writing-intensive multidisciplinary team-taught offering, PsTL 1525: Multidisciplinary Ways of Knowing. Each year the course uses a new common book to engage the question, How can one person make a difference? First-year students select among five different thematically focused sections of the course. One of the choices includes a service-learning section that takes up the idea of making a difference in lives of Twin Cities youth. The service-learning section places emphasis on integrating volunteer experience with critical reflection and academic perspectives on social issues in order to deepen student learning and experience in and outside the classroom.

Each FYI student selected an organization to volunteer for 20 hours over the course of the semester. Most sites where volunteers worked serve low-income, minority, and immigrant kids.  Interacting with diverse people was central to students’ volunteer experience. On a weekly basis, students spent time at these locations tutoring, providing homework help, working on literacy and reading skills, and coordinating activities.


At the end of the semester, students reflected on the challenges and rewards of the service-learning experience. Ana Lozano volunteered at Girls Getting Ahead Leadership (GGAL), a nonprofit organization that “provides an opportunity for 9th -12th grade immigrant and refugee girls to prepare for college, improve academic skills, and build leadership skills”.

She explains that “this class opened my eyes to the diversity of people that are in the Twin Cities; I was exposed to people who I normally would have never come in contact with. . . . My views of how immigrant and refugee individuals are seen or portrayed has changed and my interest to be more engaged in the community in which I live in has dramatically increased. By having the ability to reflect through observation notes about all of the things that were happening at my service site has helped me deepen my understanding; by observing instead of judging, giving the individual the opportunity to present themselves. With me I am taking many lifelong skills such as a deeper understanding of cultures, being able to communicate effectively with a diverse group of people, and an increase in community engagement which I plan to continue.”

Lozano goes on to say she has learned more about herself and that her experiences at GGAL have been a chance for her to develop greater awareness of particular challenges others face that are easy to ignore in our daily lives.

Cheniqua Johnson came into the FYI class not realizing there existed a section that provided an opportunity to volunteer. She jumped at the chance to take the service-learning section because she had been volunteering all throughout high school. She was worried that, as a freshman in college with a heavy course load and hectic schedule, she would not be able to continue volunteering. The 1525 course afforded her that opportunity. She chose to work with a student at Cristo Rey High School, a high school in South Minneapolis that “provides a quality, Catholic, college preparatory education to young people who live in urban communities with limited educational options.”

In her final week of volunteering Johnson wrote “[My tutee] and I are both the ‘givers’ and ‘receivers’ of this experience. I’m just thankful that I was able to have this experience and make a difference not only in her life but mine too.”

Ultimately, what did most students say they gained from this integration of coursework with community engagement?  By the end of the course many students put “patience” at the top of their list, as well as new awareness and better understanding of other cultures.  Students reported that making a regular commitment to a service site and to the young people there resulted in a growing sense of self-confidence and responsibility.

“I’ve discovered something about my interests…and am glad that I chose to take this class,” Johnson reflected.

Read more about the First Year Experience Program

Rising alum, Anise McDowell continues to be adaptive and relevant

McDowellAnise McDowell, M.A. Graduate, Multicultural College Teaching and Learning,  co-advised the Coffman Memorial Union second floor advisory committee that consisted of leaders representing cultural centers and other student organizations as they worked together planning the redesign of student space. The redesign process and outcomes are an exciting new model for other institutions across the U.S. facing similar challenges. This work won the Office for Equity & Diversity 2013 Outstanding Unit Award. She serves on the board for Parents in Community Action Head Start and the African-American Leadership Forum -Education Work Group. Anise is a recipient of the University’s Women of Color Tapestry Award.

What gets you excited about work?

I get excited watching students grow and celebrating their successes. I have also had an amazing experience working in Student Unions & Activities co-advising the second floor advisory team. They are a collective of outstanding undergraduate student leaders!

What professors were most influential during your time in CEHD?

I enjoyed working closely with my adviser, Jeanne Higbee, who challenged and supported me in many different ways. She understood me, and what I was trying to accomplish.

What skills are important to succeed as a young professional today?

You must be adaptive! I also think that you have to let theory inform your practice but you must also continue to seek new ways in doing things by creating a continuous improvement process. Stay relevant and network with others so that you can share best practices.

If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be?

W.E.B. Du Bois. He was profoundly gifted and I love his adventurous spirit. There is so much to say about him.

What was the impact and benefit of your experience in CEHD?

I would say the biggest impact was that I felt a sense of belonging and the main benefit is that I expanded my knowledge of social justice and multicultural education. It has enabled me to be proactive in moving beyond the challenges of students of color studying at a predominately White institution. My benefits come when students benefit through leadership development, study abroad, research, service learning, and graduation.